Through A Glass Darkly – University of Adelaide Theatre Guild

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This stage adaptation of the 1962 Ingmar Bergman film, presented by the Student Society of the Theatre Guild, succeeded on a number of levels. The material was serious and challenging, portraying as it did, the impact of schizophrenia on a generally dysfunctional family. First-time director Guy Henderson did well to sustain the focus and drew forth some competent, and at times gripping, performances from the four cast members.

The staging was simple and appropriate, and the sharp, focused lighting and sound effects – of the sea and whispered voices – during intense moments and scene changes gave a cold and unsettling feeling to the whole piece.

 To succeed on stage, the portrayal of mental illness has to be entirely credible. This was. Abaigh Curry, as Karin, had an unaffected naturalness in the role. As Karin’s illness increasingly manifested itself during the play, Curry managed the very difficult task of balancing both the external and internal dialogue. She effortlessly conveyed her character’s and the play’s troubling sub-texts. Hers was a thoughtful and rightfully disturbing characterisation.

Robert Baulderstone as Karin’s husband, Martin, and Riordan Miller-Frost as her younger brother, were well cast and convincing. Baulderstone skilfully showed Martin’s empathy and impotence when grappling with her illness and behaviour. Miller-Frost as the overlooked, often ignored younger child, was similarly strong in his portrayal. That was especially apparent when after finally finding the courage to show his father the play he’d written, the manuscript was left lying on the table.

Cats Seifert played the self-obsessed and often absent father, David. He certainly had the presence and emotional weight for the role, and convinced us, particularly in his self-revelations later in the play, of his own inner turmoil. He needed more work, however, on the character’s range of emotions and subtlety in his vocal delivery, which while being an asset in his forthright moments, required more flexibility.

This is a demanding and powerful play. The Theatre Guild Student Society deserves great credit for taking it on, and making it believable.

Through A Glass Darkly
The University of Adelaide Theatre Guild
University of Adelaide – Little Theatre, The Cloisters
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